Posts Tagged ‘baking’

Cakes & Bakes: Spelt cereal loaf

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

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spelt cereal loaf

I must confess, I have a soft spot for a Warburton’s Toastie. I love that first, fresh crust slice with just a thin scraping of butter (only Lurpak will do!). A couple of soft white slices from a ‘bought that day’ loaf, spread with some crunchy peanut butter and half a sliced banana… divine!

This spelt cereal loaf – I borrowed a recipe from Country Bread by Linda Collister & Anthony Blake – is a much more healthy option than most loaves of bread you’d buy in the supermarket. Spelt flour has more protein and a little less calories than regular wheat flour. The added oats, bran, wheatgerm and sunflower seeds crank the nutritional value up to the max.

Justin enjoyed a few slices today with a bit of pate. I fancy a cheese & Branston pickle doorstop!

Cakes & Bakes: Spelt cereal loaf

Yield: makes 1 medium loaf

Cakes & Bakes: Spelt cereal loaf


  • 250g white bread flour
  • 250g spelt flour
  • 100g rolled oats
  • 75g malt flakes
  • 50g wheatgerm
  • 25g sunflower seeds
  • 15g sea salt
  • 15g fresh or 7g dried yeast
  • 400ml lukewarm water
  • 2tsp olive oil


  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix the flours with the cereals, seeds and salt
  2. Make a well in the centre
  3. Put the yeast into a measuring jug and make into a smooth liquid with a little of the water and pour into the well in the flour
  4. Add the olive oil and remainder of the water
  5. Gradually work the dry mixture into the liquid to make a soft, slightly sticky dough - it should not stick to the bowl or your fingers, so add a little more water if necessary
  6. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead well for 10 minutes
  7. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or put the bowl into a large plastic bag and close tightly
  8. Leave to prove at room temperature until the dough has doubled in size - about 2 hours
  9. Knock back the risen dough with your knuckles to deflate it, then turn out onto a work surface
  10. Pat out into a rectangle the length of your banneton or greased tin before putting it into the container
  11. Cover and leave to rise again until almost double in size - 1-1½ hours
  12. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas mark 7
  13. Uncover the dough (if using a banneton, carefully tip the dough out on to a greased baking sheet) and bake for 35 minutes until it turns golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom of the loaf
  14. Cool on a wire rack for at least half an hour before slicing & serving

Cakes & Bakes: Nutty millionaire’s shortbread

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

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nutty millionaire's shortbread

This nutty millionaire’s shortbread tastes SO much better than any I’ve ever bought from a shop. I happened to have bags of whole almonds and hazelnuts in the larder, but it would be equally as good if you made it using pecans, Brazil nuts or walnuts. Cashew butter instead of peanut in the shortbread could be a good alternative to try too!

Cakes & Bakes: Nutty millionaire’s shortbread

Yield: makes 9 squares

Cakes & Bakes: Nutty millionaire’s shortbread


  • For the shortbread
  • 125g/4oz butter, softened
  • 2tbs peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
  • 75g/3oz caster sugar
  • 75g/3oz cornflour
  • 175g/6oz plain flour
  • For the topping
  • 397g/14oz tin of sweetened condensed milk
  • 100g/3½oz mixed nuts (I used ½ & ½ hazelnuts and almonds)
  • 125g/4oz plain dark chocolate


  1. To make the caramel topping, put the unopened tin in a heavy-based saucepan and completely cover with water. Cover the saucepan with its lid and boil for about 1½ hours, topping up the water level if needed.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350F/Gas mark 4, 10 minutes before baking.
  3. Line a 22cm/8inch square cake tin with parchment/greaseproof paper
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar until light
  5. Sift in the cornflour and plain flour and mix to form a smooth dough
  6. Using the back of a dessert spoon, press the mixture evenly into the lined cake tin and prick all over with a fork
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until just turning golden brown
  8. Put the nuts on to a baking tray and toast them in the oven for 10-15 minutes
  9. Remove the shortbread from the oven and set aside on a wire rack
  10. Remove the nuts from the oven and wrap them in a clean tea towel. Rub the nuts together to remove most of the skins (especially if you're using hazelnuts or 'red skinned' peanuts)
  11. Reserve 9 of the nuts, roughly chop the remainder and sprinkle them evenly across the shortbread
  12. Open the tin of boiled condensed milk (if the contents are quite rigid you can soften it by warming slightly in a saucepan on the stove or decant into a microwaveable container and heat for 20-30 seconds). Pour the caramel over the nuts and spread evenly. Refrigerate while you prepare the chocolate
  13. Break up the chocolate into pieces and put them into a heat-proof bowl
  14. Using a saucepan small enough not to allow the bowl to touch the bottom, fill the bowl with just enough water so that it doesn't come into contact with the base of the bowl
  15. Simmer the saucepan of water until the chocolate has just melted
  16. Pour the chocolate evenly over the top of the caramel
  17. Place the whole nuts on top of the chocolate, one for each portion
  18. Allow to set before slicing into squares & serving


You can parboil the tinned condensed milk in advance and the caramel can be stored for months & months before use. I always have a few cans of 'cooked' condensed milk stored in our larder.

Cakes & Bakes: Super sticky syrup sponge

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

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bowl of syrup sponge with vanilla ice cream | H is for Home

We’ve been hooked on the Great British Bake Off since the very start. That’s where we were first introduced to the author of the syrup sponge recipe we’re featuring today.

Ruth Clemens of The Pink Whisk was the runner up in that inaugural series. Since then, she’s become a successful blogger, has had a number of cookbooks published and is a regular contributor to magazines; I tore out and kept this recipe from a recent copy of Stylist. The recipe is quick & simple to make and, if you’re a fan of very sweet gooey puddings like me, tastes great!

The sponge went down a storm with Justin, he enjoyed his with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – I paired mine with a dollop of crème fraîche. Custard would be another delicious option!

Cakes & Bakes: Super sticky syrup sponge

Yield: makes 1 x 8-inch pudding

Cakes & Bakes: Super sticky syrup sponge


  • for the sponge
  • 125g/4½oz golden syrup
  • 100g/3½oz butter
  • 100g/3½oz caster sugar
  • 265g/9½oz plain flour
  • ¾tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ¾tsp baking powder
  • 165g/6oz golden syrup
  • 215ml/7½ fl oz boiling water
  • for the topping
  • 50g/1¾oz golden syrup, warmed


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. Line the base & circumference of a 20cm/8'' round springform tin with non-stick baking paper
  3. Add the 125g golden syrup to the base of the tin
  4. Put all the sponge ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, adding the boiling water last
  5. On the slowest speed and using the whisk attachment, mix together the batter slowly increasing the speed to medium until well combined
  6. Pour the batter over the golden syrup in the tin
  7. Bake for an hour
  8. Carefully release the cake from the tin and invert onto a serving plate
  9. Pour the warmed golden syrup on top and serve

Bookmarks: Pie

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

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'Pie' book by Genevieve Taylor

Today’s Bookmarks review features Pie by Genevieve Taylor. What a treat as we love a good pie… who doesn’t?

foreword in 'Pie' book by Genevieve Taylor

We haven’t met the world’s lone pie-hater yet either!

game pie

Buttery pastry & rich fillings – tasty, hearty & homely. What’s not to like?

salmon encroute

You can, of course, find bad examples – the infamous petrol station pie springs to mind – cold, pale, soggy & bland. A very poor substitute for the wonderful offerings in this book.

apple pie

They’re not difficult things to make. A bit of preparation maybe, but once they’re in the oven, they look after themselves. No last minute running around. Just the gorgeous smell of bubbling fillings &  pastry browning to heighten the appetite.

double crust pie

This book expertly guides you through the whole process.

lamb filo pie

There’s an early chapter covering pastry – different types, methods, techniques & tips.

different pastry recipes

Then lots of examples of what to do with it.

suet pudding

Hot pies, cold pies, sweet & savoury pies.

smoked gammon pie

Pies from Britain & the rest of Europe , North Africa, America and the Caribbean.

leek, bacon and cheese quiche

It features meat & vegetarian options.

Greek pie

Some very traditional pies such as steak & ale, cheese & onion and raised game. Others are far less familiar – Tunisian egg pastry pie, creamed celeriac & Serrano ham tartlets, greengage & ginger strudels.

steak and ale rough puff pie

There are a hundred recipes in all, so you’ll never run out of ideas!

lattice pie pie

The wonderful photography by Mike Cooper is sure to inspire you. The pies are beautifully staged with wooden boards, old knives, vintage enamelware, tins & crockery. The lighting is superb and the images really live.

summer tartlet

Recipes are clear & concise – each neatly fitting onto its own page so there’s no turning backwards & forwards.

Moroccan carrot tart tatin

When it comes to pie, home-made is definitely best so this book is a must for any kitchen shelf. Pies can provide the perfect meal for a relaxed family gathering, a light lunch or a dinner party.

weekend pies

We defy you to read this book and not want to get baking.

smoked salmon tarts

So what’s keeping you – there’s pie to be made!!

stargazy pie

Pie is also available from Hive and Amazon.

Here’s a little preview of the first pie we tried from the book. It’s a leek, blue cheese & wild garlic pie – an interesting combination of ingredients that could all be locally sourced… and truly delicious which is the most important thing. Blog post with recipe to follow in a couple of days!

blue cheese with wild garlic pie

[Many thanks to Bloomsbury for this review copy]

Cakes & Bakes: Magic Cake

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

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slice of magic cake with a cup of tea | H is for Home

Magic cake is quick & easy to prepare, doesn’t have that many ingredients and most of all it’s very tasty!

I found the recipe on the Jo Cooks blog and she in turn first saw it on FoodEpix. The cake gets its name from the fact that it magically forms itself into three layers when cooked. It tastes a bit like an egg custard or a sweet soufflé. I like it warm, but I love it cold.

Don’t be alarmed by the thinness of the batter, it’s VERY thin. And don’t mind that it’s a bit lumpy when you’ve added the egg white – it’s meant to do that too! You can tweak the recipe to make lemon magic cake, chocolate magic cake or butterscotch magic cake… Magic! :-)

Cakes & Bakes: Magic Cake

Yield: makes 6-8 slices

Cakes & Bakes: Magic Cake


  • 4 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g/5oz caster sugar
  • 125g/4½oz butter, melted
  • 115g/4oz plain flour
  • 500ml/17½ fl oz milk, lukewarm
  • icing sugar to dust (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 160ºC/325ºF/gas mark
  2. Grease a 20cm/8-inch square cake tin
  3. Separate the eggs
  4. Add egg whites to a food mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip until stiff and forming peaks
  5. Spoon the whites into another bowl and set aside
  6. Clean the mixer bowl, add the egg yolks and caster sugar and beat until light
  7. Add the butter and vanilla extract to the mixture and continue beating for another minute or two
  8. Add the flour until combined well
  9. Gradually add the milk, beating until well combined
  10. Add the egg whites in three stages, gently folding them into the mix using a spatula or metal spoon
  11. Carefully pour the batter into the cake tin and cook for 40-50 minutes or until the top is lightly golden
  12. Allow to cool in the tin
  13. Once the cake has completely cooled, lightly sprinkle icing sugar over the top, slice and serve